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    American Revolution: Order Book for Various Officers of the Royal Navy in the Caribbean, 1778-1780. Bound manuscript containing 114 pages (20 of which are blank), 6" x 9", in various hands, for orders issued by Vice Admiral John Byron, Admiral Samuel Barrington, Admiral Hyde Parker, Admiral Sir Thomas Pye, Admiral Francis Geary, Captain Timothy Edwards, Captain Benjamin Hill, and Rear Admiral Richard Kempenfelt, mostly relating to the Royal Navy activities in the Caribbean Theater of the American Revolutionary War. Byron was commander of the HMS Princess Royal, Barrington and Hill were commanders of the HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Barfleur, Edwards was commander of the HMS Cornwall, and Geary (Off the coast of Europe), commander of the HMS Victory. The order book includes a 1-page index and covers a period from March 24, 1778 to October 11, 1780. The entries are not in chronological order, which suggests that it is a period fair copy.

    The orderly book covers much of the period of the Anglo-French War in the West Indies between the British Royal Navy and the French Navy, which allied with the American Navy when France in 1778 entered the American Revolutionary War on the side of the rebellious British colonies. Britain had numerous island colonies in the West Indies at the time the American Revolution began and were determined to protect their economic interests in the area. In 1779, Spain entered the war as a French ally. A year later the Dutch Republic entered the war on the side of the American colonies and the French.

    The orders concern directives for care of the sick, rations for the crews, discharges of sailors, directives on wages and prizes, delivering dispatches between islands, and instructions relating to interactions with enemy vessels, be they French or American. While most of the orders concerning activities in the Caribbean, some are for ships off the coast of Europe.

    Examples of entries are as follows:

    On October 8, 1778 Admiral Barrington, commander of the HMS Prince of Wales, issued the following order: As a result of "The French King having issued orders for seizing or Destroying all Ships and Vessels belonging to His Majesty or His Subjects...seize or destroy all Ships and Vessels belonging to the French King or his Subjects . . . and to conduct [yourself] in all respects towards the same as if war was actually declared between the two crowns and to give the like directions to His Maj. Ships and Vessels under my command."

    In early January, Admiral Byron, commander of the HMS Princess Royal, had arrived on the scene and on January 20, 1779 gave this order: "Whereas I intend that the Frigates and small armed Vessels that may be with Squadron, whilst at this anchorage, shall every Day . . . strike close over to the shore of Martinique, as well to examine whither the French Squadron remains in Port Royal Harbour, as to intercept, and endeavor to cut off any of the enemy's Frigates or Merchant Vessels . . . It is my intention that the Ships of the Line shall take it in Rotation . . . But when employed on this service you are carefully to avoid engaging with a superior force until you are certain of being effectively supported."

    A May 20, 1779 order from Byron stated: "I think it necessary to direct that each ship do keep a Boat alongside properly armed and furnished with a fire Grapnell [sic] and Chain, and that all the fire Booms and Grapnells as well as the fire Engins [sic] and Buckets be kept in constant readiness for service. . . . and no strange Boat or Vessel whatever is to be permitted to get among the Kings Ships after the Watch is set."

    The above appears to be the last order issued by Admiral Byron. The next order, dated July 29, 1779, was from Samuel Barrington: "You will herewith receive the...fighting instructions for H. M. Fleet, together with such additional signals and instructions as I think necessary for conducting the Squadron under my command, and, as the good Discipline of His Majesty's Ships and the Honor of the Service depend on the care and attention of the officers, you are hereby required and directed to be very diligent and alert in the observance and execution of whatever signals shall be made & to see that the several officers of the ship you command do exert themselves as much as possible in their respective stations; and you are to cause the people to particularly instructed in the Exercise of the great guns & small arms at every convenient opportunity."

    On August 24, 1779 this following order came from Rear Admiral Hyde Parker relating to Spanish vessels: "In pursuance of an order from the Right Honble. the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty Dated 17 June & directed to the Honble. J. Byron Vice Ad. of the Blue, you are hereby required and directed to seize or destroy all ships & Vessels belonging to the King of Spain or his subjects as you may meet with & to conduct yourself in all respects toward them as if war was actually declared between the two crowns for which this shall be your order."

    On August 25, 1779, Parker announced that Timothy Edwards, captain of the HMS Cornwall, would be giving orders in the future: "You are hereby required and directed to put yourself under the command of Captain Edwards of H.M.S. the Cornwall and follow his orders for your further proceedings for which this shall be your order."

    This was followed up on August 28, 1779 with an order from Captain Edwards: "In pursuance of an order from Hyde Parker Esq. Rear Adl. Of the Red etc., etc., etc., you are hereby required and directed to put yourself under my Command and to follow all such orders as you may from time to time receive from me."

    On September 7, 1779 orders come this time from Admiral Barrington: "His Most Christian Majesty [the king of France] having ordered the Marquis de Bouillie [French General François Claude Amour] Governour of His Island of Martinique, to committ Hostilities against the possessions and Subjects of Great Britain, and a vessel charged with dispatches to me . . . having been actually seized by a French Privateer and carried into one of the Ports of Martinique, You are hereby required and directed to use your utmost endeavours to take or destroy whatever vessels you shall hereafter meet with belonging to His Most Christian Majesty."

    On June 16, 1780 orders from Barrington concern extensive regulations "particularly respecting Diet" for sick crew members: "As soon as the man complains of being sick his name and the N. of his Miss are to be taken down in a Book kept for that purpose which is to be daily given to the Pursers Steward, who is to stop his meat for which a pint of wine is daily to be allowed. The wine for the number of sick is to be daily issued to one of the Surgeon's Mates or to some person appointed for that service which is to be distributed in such proportions and in such manner as the Surgeon shall direct, for instance, after the first evacuations are made, a little wine and water, or some wine in Gruel may be given with great advantage in the low putrid fevers, which may prevail. It is not necessary in the beginning of the Fever that the sick should have his whole allowance of wine, as in the progress of his disease a larger quantity may be found useful. The Sick Berth is to have a plentiful daily supply of Water Gruel and Barley Water, the Sick are to be encouraged to a frequent use of these drinks. About 10 o Clock in the forenoon the Sick are to take a Mess of thick Gruel, made palatable with Sugar or Currants (the Currants not to be boiled) with a small quantity of Salt, about 4 o Clock in the afternoon Rice boiled with portable Soup is to be given to each of the Sick. When the Beer is good there is no reason to debar the Sick of half a Pint three or four times a day especially if they have a great desire for it. In all Ships the Sick Berth should be under the Forecastle, or if there are more Sick than the Forecastle can contain, they are to be kept under the half Deck, in order to be separated from the rest of the Ships Company, this is to be enclosed with canvas fixed down...on the Deck which is to be caulked well to prevent wet from getting into the Berth."

    This undated [ca. 1780] order from Admiral Barrington concerns ships belonging to the American colonies: "You are hereby reqd. & directed forthwith to proceed to sea . . . and cruize between the Latitudes of 13 ° & 20° N & the Longd. of 56° & 58° Wt. for the Protection of the Trade of H.Ms. Subjects diligently looking out for and using your utmost endeavors to take & destroy any privateers or other Vessels belonging to the Rebellious Colonies of N.A. which may happen to be in those parts. . . .You are also in case of meeting with Intelligence of any Privateers or other Vessels belonging to the Rebellious Colonies or mentd. being in parts contiguous to the, tho' not actually within the station hereby assigned to you, at Liberty to proceed in quest of them taking care however to return to your Station so soon as you have taken or destroyed the same or shall be satsfd. that none such are there."

    In another undated entry, an order is given by Admiral Barrington to schedule a court-martial trial: "Capt. Pringle...having applied to me by letter of the 16th inst. to order a Court Martial to try Mr. J. Wheeler Capt. Of the sd. Ship for having been frequently drunk and repeatedly neglected his duty I send you herewith the letter above mentioned and by virtue of the Power & authority to me given do hereby require...you to assemble a Court Martial."

    John Byron (1723-1786), a vice admiral in the Royal Navy, was the fourth Lord Byron and the grandfather of the poet Lord Byron. Known as 'Foul-Weather Jack," Byron served (1778-1779) as Commander-in-Chief of the British Fleet in the West Indies during the American Revolution and briefly as Commander-in-Chief of the North American Station (1779-1780). Samuel Barrington (1729-1800) entered the Royal Navy at the young age of eleven-years-old and served in several capacities, including the rank of admiral, for fifty years. Hyde Parker (1739-1807) served as an admiral in the British Royal Navy and was in command of the Jamaica Station from 1796-1800. Sir Thomas Pye (1708/9-1785) served in the Royal Navy during the War of Austrian Succession, the Seven Years' War, and the American Revolution. Sir Francis Geary (1709-1796), like Admiral Pye, served the Royal Navy in the War of Austrian Succession, the Seven Years' War, and the American Revolution. Rear Admiral Richard Kempenfelt (1718-1782) was known as a naval innovator who saw service in both the East and West Indies.

    Condition: The first two pages of the orderly book are missing and it appears at least a page of the index is missing. Bound in a cloth covered with brown paper. Internally, the pages are chipped at the edges and the first and last pages in have soiling, but otherwise the manuscript is in good condition.


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